US to Shoot Down Dead Satellite

Pentagon hopes to destroy it before it crashes to Earsh
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2008 12:03 PM CST
An unclassified U.S. spy satellite photo released Aug. 9, 1995 shows a Mosque and surrounding houses destroyed by fire and explosives in Bosnia and Herzegovinia. A large U.S. spy satellite has lost power...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The Pentagon is planning to shoot down a malfunctioning spy satellite in orbit, the AP reports, rather than run the risk of it crashing to Earth—and possibly into unfriendly hands. The powerless satellite is currently expected to hit somewhere on Earth the first week of March; the US would fire modified missiles at it from ships off Hawaii before then.

Although the SM-3 missiles—normally ship-to-air weapons—will be upgraded with extra fuel and guidance software, it is not guaranteed they will reach their target. If they do, the resulting debris should remain in orbit. The plan seems likely to generate international criticism—particularly from China, which the US blasted last year after it shot down a dead weather satellite.